EU tells Israel, Trump it rejects Jerusalem move

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took his case to Europe to ask allies to join the US in recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, has been met by a firm rebuff from EU foreign ministers.

Making his first visit to EU headquarters in Brussels, Netanyahu said President Donald Trump's move made peace in the Middle East possible "because recognising reality is the substance of peace, the foundation of peace".

Trump announced last Wednesday that the US would recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Trump administration says it remains committed to the peace process and its decision does not affect Jerusalem's future borders or status. It says any credible future peace deal will place the Israeli capital in Jerusalem, and ditching old policies is needed to revive a peace process frozen since 2014.

But even Israel's closest European allies have rejected that logic and say recognising Israel's capital unilaterally risks inflaming violence and further wrecking the chance for peace.

After a breakfast meeting between Netanyahu and EU foreign ministers, Sweden's top diplomat said no European at the closed-door meeting had voiced support for Trump's decision, and no country was likely to follow the US in announcing plans to move its embassy.

Several EU foreign ministers arriving at the meeting reiterated the bloc's position that lands Israel has occupied since the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank and Golan Heights, are not within Israel's borders.

Israel's position does appear to have more support from some EU states than others. Last week, the Czech foreign ministry said it would begin considering moving the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while Hungary blocked a planned EU statement condemning the US move.

But Prague later said it accepted Israel's sovereignty only over West Jerusalem, and Budapest said its long-term position seeking a two-state solution in the Middle East had not changed.

Netanyahu said Europeans should emulate Trump's move and press the Palestinians to do so too.

"It's time that the Palestinians recognise the Jewish state and also recognise the fact that it has a capital. It's called Jerusalem," he said.

In comments filmed later on his plane, he said he had told the Europeans to "stop pampering the Palestinians". "I think the Palestinians need a reality check. You have to stop cutting them slack. That's the only way to move forward towards peace."

Reuters